Purdue Boilermakers preview
What’s their history?
As I mentioned the other day, Purdue began playing football in 1887, just the ninth year of the school. They spent their first few years as an independent, then competed in the Indiana Intercollegiate Athletic Association from 1890 through 1895, which they won each year from 1891 through 1894. Early in 1895, Purdue University President James Smart convened a meeting with the presidents of six other midwestern schools (Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Chicago, and Lake Forest) to discuss intercollegiate athletics. In 1896, this group, with the substitution of Michigan for Lake Forest, formally organized into what became known as the Western Conference, and eventually the Big Ten (B1G).
Since then, the Boilermakers have been Big Ten Conference champions eight times, but seven were shared; their only outright championship was 1929, when they finished the year 8-0 and shut out Chicago, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Indiana. Purdue has been to the Rose Bowl twice. Their first trip was in 1967, when they finished second in the Big Ten; Michigan State was the Big Ten champion in 1965 and 1966, and having gone to the Rose Bowl in 1966, was not allowed to go in 1967 due to the conference’s “no repeat” rule. In 2000, Purdue, led by quarterback Drew Brees, tied Michigan and Northwestern for the Big Ten title, and the Boilermakers got the Rose Bowl invitation on the basis of head-to-head wins against both teams.
What about EMU?
EMU and Purdue have faced off just once before, on September 7, 1991. After four straight winning seasons under Jim Harkema, the Hurons had hit hard times the year before, starting the season 2-1 but then finishing on an eight-game losing streak for a 2-9 record. The losing streak continued into 1991, with EMU losing their opener at Bowling Green, 17-6.
Against this backdrop, EMU traveled to Purdue for the Boilermakers’ season opener, their first game under new head coach Jim Colletto, and things did not go well. The Hurons quickly fell behind 21-0 before Jim Langeloh kicked a 43-yard field goal, eventually finishing with just 206 offensive yards (126 yards passing and 80 yards rushing) and five turnovers, while Purdue gained 367 yards — 289 rushing — with no turnovers, en route to a 49-3 route.
EMU is 0-29 all-time against B1G opponents, while Purdue is 39-9-1 against the MAC with one loss to Northern Illinois (0-1), two losses to Bowling Green (0-2), and three losses each to Toledo (3-3) and Miami (9-3-1).
Who’s on the sideline?
Danny Hope played offensive tackle for Eastern Kentucky from 1977-1980. After a few years as an assisant high school coach in Florida, he coached the offensive line at Louisville for the Howard Schnellenberger decade (1985-94). When Schnellenberger left for Oklahoma (to be replace at Louisville by Ron Cooper — ha!) Hope followed him, though the stay only lasted one season, as Schnellenberger abruptly resigned. The next year Hope coached the offensive line at Wyoming under Joe Tiller. Following that successful season (10-2), Hope followed Tiller to Purdue, spending the next five years coaching the o-line in West Lafayette before returning to Louisville to be offensive coordinator for what would turn out to be John L. Smith’s final season there.
From 2003 through 2007, Hope was the head coach of his alma mater, Eastern Kentucky, compiling a 35-22 record and leading the Colonels to an Ohio Valley Conference championship his final year. In early 2008, Hope was hired as offensive coordinator at Purdue, with the expectation that he would become the head coach upon Joe Tiller’s retirement. Following that season, Tiller did retire, going down as the winningest coach in Purdue University history, and Hope was named as his successor. Hope’s Boilermaker teams have struggled somewhat — he has yet to post a winning record in the regular season. In other good news for hopeful EMU fans, his teams have lost to Northern Illinois (2009), Toledo (2010), and Rice (2011).
What have they done lately?
The Boilermakers started the season by hosting their coach’s old school, Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels are a good FCS team — probably not quite as good as Illinois State, but close — but they were badly outmatched against Purdue, and lost 48-6. Last weekend Purdue traveled to Notre Dame for the annual Shillelagh Trophy game. With one touchdown each in the second quarter, the teams went to halftime tied at 7, and although the Fighting Irish pulled ahead to a 17-7 lead in the third quarter, the Boilermakers answered in the fourth, tying the game again with two minutes remaining. Notre Dame drove 55 yards, making it inside the 10-yard-line, before kicking a 27-yard field goal with seven seconds left to win the game 20-17.
Who makes tackles?
Top defenders include cornerback Josh Johnson (10 solo tackles, four passes broken up, one fumble forced and recovered), defensive tackle Kawann Short (three sacks for 22 yards, two blocked kicks), and weak-side linebacker Will Lucas (13 total tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception). The other starting cornerback, Ricardo Allen, has also garnered some national attention, but he suffered an ankle injury against Notre Dame on Saturday and might not play this weekend.
How do they score?
Well, that’s an interesting question. Sixth-year senior Robert Marve was their quarterback against Eastern Kentucky, but last week the Boilermakers alternated between Marve and fellow senior Caleb TerBush. But Marve was injured in that game — possibly an ACL tear, so it seems that it’s TerBush that the Eagles will face. From what I can tell, TerBush seems to be not bad, not to be a great passer either, though he is known to carry the ball about 6 to 8 times a game. The top receivers are Antavian Edison, O.J. Ross, and then Gary Bush. Akeem Shavers leads the running backs with 23 carries for 111 net yards (4.8 yards per carry) and a touchdown.
I’ll give you the same predictions I gave a Purdue blog:
Ron English will scowl when Purdue scores, and scowl even harder when EMU answers.
The “All-American” Marching Band will be awesome.
Purdue will win, 28-17. Illinois State fans will rub the margin in the Boilermakers’ faces.